The Hope of Faith
By Shelly Satran
Sunday worship at our local church is scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m., yet we never know when the service will actually begin. Sometimes my husband and I show up on time…and wait two hours. Other times we arrive just a little late…and the sermon is already finishing. For me, a time-and-schedule-oriented American, this can be frustrating. But it doesn’t keep me from going to church. Something happens at worship on top of this mountain outside Port-au-Prince that seems to give both my neighbors and me the strength to keep going for the rest of the week.
My husband and I know many, but not all, of the people who fill the pews. We know the twin sisters who usually set out the offering plates, their faces identically serene and beautiful. They often dress alike, too, which gives them an air of youthfulness though they’re about seventy years old. We know the young woman who serves as a lector. She has taken multiple sewing, cooking, and baking classes offered by another local church, yet can find no work. There are no jobs to be found. We know the ten-year-old boy who wants to become a priest and is so serious about church that instead of sitting with the other kids, who sometimes giggle and aren’t so focused on the service, he chooses to squeeze into a spot in the midst of the gray-haired elders who sit in the first row.
We know the woman whose son is one of the fortunate few to have a job. He works in a bank and saved up for a long time to buy a fifteenyear- old car. For the eight months he owned the car, he often gave neighbors rides up and down the mountain. Then, about a month ago, he was carjacked. He was unhurt, but the car was stolen and there is no replacement insurance.
We know the high school student who is active in the local community group that works together on problems such as fixing the broken water well or repairing the raindamaged, impassable local road.
It is with them—these neighbors, these friends—and so many others that we have the privilege to gather on Sunday mornings and pray, listen to God’s Word, commune, praise God, and sing together.
One hymn we often sing after the sermon is an affirmation of faith that follows the structure of the Apostle’s Creed. The choir standing up front sings a statement of faith such as, “God is our Father.” The congregation then replies in song, “Wi, mwen kwè.” Yes, I believe. The choir sings, “God created heaven and earth,” and we all sing back, “Yes, I believe.” The choir sings loudly, “Jesus is the son of God,” and we sing together, “Yes, I believe.” And so on.
The accompanying drums and the congregation’s steady clapping rise with the voices, strengthening with each repetition, finding hope and faith together. Yes, we believe.